Looking Ahead At New Year
It is traditional to usher in a new year by looking ahead at the challenges before us, and thinking through the ways to best meet them. Foremost among those challenges, of course, is the continuing war against terrorism and the trials of those apprehended for their roles in the atrocities of September 11.
As the President has warned us many times, Afghanistan is the beginning of our efforts to root out this type of evil, not the end of it. Other nations that harbor terrorists of global reach will have to be confronted; efforts to obtain nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction will have to be countered.
We must continue our efforts to enhance the security of our people and our borders. Legislation, I co-authored with Senators Feinstein, Kennedy, and Brownback - and which passed the House of Representatives in December -- provides a good start in that direction. Other measures to increase Americans’ supplies of vaccines and antitoxins -- as well as those to safeguard our biological and nuclear facilities -- will also prove crucial.
Working together we will rebuild in New York and Washington, remember those who were lost, and provide assistance to businesses and families that were devastated by the evil of al-Qaeda.
In the coming year, we must do a better job of putting politics aside for the good of the nation. There is no reason that a year into President Bush’s term there are still key nominees for positions in his administration who have not been confirmed by the Senate. And there is no excuse for the fact that scores of judicial vacancies - so crucial to our law-enforcement efforts - remain open due to Senate inaction and obstructionism.
Our foreign policy will face continued challenges. The Middle East remains a cauldron of terrorism, and we don’t know what additional terrorist acts may be attempted against the American people.
E1sewhere, China is resuming its practice of challenging American pilots over international waters. It has yet to offer any assurances that it will cease ‘its proliferation of nuclear technology and other assistance to rogue regimes. America’s determination to confront terrorism may give Beijing an opportunity to be even more provocative with Taiwan; so we must remain vigilant in the Far East.
Perhaps the best news in the new year is that the United States will finally remove the straitjacket on our national security that is the 1972 Anti-ballistic Missile (ABM) treaty. At every turn, missile defense critics have been proven wrong. They said missile defense wouldn’t work, and yet a number of tests of the system have been successful. They said it was too expensive, though money being spent on the program is comparable to other U.S. defense programs already in existence. They said it was necessary, though we know that a number of rogue nations are actively seeking nuclear missiles. Critics vowed the world’s response would be hostile and provocative; instead it has been restrained. At long last, we will begin to deploy a system that will help shield Americans from nuclear attack.
At home in Arizona, we will work to improve our economy by encouraging travel and tourism and other economic aid to industries and small businesses still reeling from the ripple effects of September 11. A landmark water settlement is in the offing, and will be the focus of renewed efforts. The state will continue to take steps to increase its security readiness, hoping that the worst will never happen, but being prepared in case it does.
On a personal note, I hope that in the coming year I will again be able to stand at the White House with World Series champions, as the Diamondbacks make it two in a row.
May 2002 be a year where all fond hopes are fulfilled, all challenges are successfully confronted, all families are filled with joy and prosperity, and all nations work together for peace and understanding.
Happy New Year.